Opinions regarding current issues should be formed by a collection of influential experiences and discussions. With the American left and right growing further and further apart, opinions become more conflicting and forming an opinion becomes more incentivized by the pressure to choose a side in a conflict. So much of discourse today feels like people picking one of two opposite sides and holding dearly to it. This doesn’t allow for any sort of resolution or cooperation between sides. It becomes more difficult to have an informative conversation with someone on the other side, so inevitably, each side becomes narrow-minded and blinded by antagonism from the opinion of the other side.
Although we have seen this trend grow in American politics, it is present on a global scale as well. Perhaps one of the most charged examples is the Israel-Palestinian conflict; both sides have an argument that conflicts with one another, and there is no conversation between supporters of Israel and of Palestine. Both Israelis and Palestinians have been so loyal to their side of the conflict that they antagonize the other side and reject its views rather than have an informative conversation. Both sides have the right to their views, but in order to reach a resolution, it is important to learn to listen to what the other side has to say.
Even without expressing opinions, it is important to form them, because forming them is how we process and analyze information. For those who want to become more politically aware and active, especially on such a controversial issue, there is always a vital need to research beyond popular media coverage when it comes to issues like the Israeli-Palestinian relations because it is too complex to be covered by a few uninformative and perhaps biased news stories. This is meant to encourage one to listen to the arguments that both sides present before choosing a side. Doing this will not only allow a more holistic and informed establishment of an opinion on the issue but will set the necessary foundation for open-minded discussion between the two sides in this case, supporters of Israel and supporters of Palestine.
Recently, Benjamin Netanyahu made an announcement to keep the West Bank under Israeli control, which caused a great deal of anger and retaliation on behalf of Palestine and its supporters. This announcement has reinvigorated tensions between the two groups – Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestine, so it seems fit to discuss why this tension occurs and how to overcome it.
To even begin having conversations that lead to the mending of conflicts, we need to learn how to form and listen to opinions in a constructive manner, rather than simply choosing a side and taking part in this political combat between two opposing views. This way of thinking and joining political activism is destructive and prone to division and conflict. The more tension grows, the more extremism, hateful dangerous speech and violent acts of hate we see in the news.
At the University of Connecticut, for instance, we have people who hold conflicting views on this issue, and it is important to reduce political tension between students and on campus in general in order to create a safe platform where students feel free to hold any views they wish. Consequently, this news and other news that can affect students’ conflicting views should be a wakeup call for all of us to further acquaint ourselves with this issue before forming an opinion or choosing a side in political conflicts.
Participating in political conversation is important because many people want to argue and advocate their opinions on given issues. However, in doing so it is vital to stay above hate speech and hateful arguments, even when an opponent makes an offensive comment or argument. We must sway away from the politics of hate and to promote criticism of the opponent’s perspective, not hatred of the opponent. It is important to note with blind antagonism, which often stems from political beliefs, comes violence. As long as the politics of hate play a major role in today’s political discussions, there will always be someone who hates the opposing side enough to commit violent acts of hate.
Keren Blaunstein is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.